Saturday, May 17, 2014

RaboDirect Pro 12: Americas Exports Semi Finals Wrap

Photo RaboDirect Pro 12
The winner of the Celtic-Italian League this season is to either be the Glasgow Warriors or Leinster. The Scottish city side and the Irish province earned the right to contest the final by winning their close Semi Final matches against Munster and Ulster this weekend. Involved were players from the Americas, the last IRB defined region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup.  

Glasgow Warriors 16-15 Munster
History was made on Friday evening as Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors completed a home Semi Final victory over Irish province Munster to qualify for a first ever Rabo Direct Pro 12 Semi Final. The narrow one point victory was played in front of a loud and packed Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow and was arguably one of the most emotional games ever played in the Scotland's largest city. On hand were 10,000 supporters, a larger crowd than that which attended Saracens v Harlequins on Saturday afternoon in England. 

Playing left wing for the Glasgow Warriors was Tommy Seymour who is from the USA. The native of Nashville plays for Scotland at international level due to his mother being from Glasgow. The highest try scorer in the history of the Glasgow Warriors, DTH van der Merwe did not play. The Canadian has seldom featured this season for the side due to injury. USA players Carlin Isles and Folau Niua are also both at Glasgow but did not feature in the Semi Final. 

Leinster 13-9 Ulster
Reigning champions Leinster secures a home final against the Glasgow Warriors earlier today. The Irish province recorded a late, come from behind, victory over northern Irish province Ulster by scoring the only try of the match eight minutes from full time. Before fly half Ian Madigan went over Ulster had been leading for the entire match. 

In winning Leinster secured a home final with the RDS Stadium in Dublin again the setting for the tournament decider. The home of Leinster rugby attracted a strong crowd for the Semi Final against Ulster and won bigger than both Semi Finals in the Aviva Premiership. The crowd of 18,246 combined with the 10,000 in Glasgow gave the Rabo Direct Pro 12 a total attendance of over 28,000 for the Semi Finals compared to 23,452 for the Semi Finals of the Aviva Premiership.

The uncapped Callum Black started the match at loosehead prop. Born in Washington D.C but eligible to represent not only his home country but also Ireland and England. Black remains a possible USA Eagle for Rugby World Cup 2015. His team's loss means that the Irish team in the final will not have players from the Americas. Leinster is, nonetheless, a club with a history of notable players from the Western Hemisphere such as Felipe Contepomi who with 1,225 points for the province is the all time leading points scorer.

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